Airlines are charging up to $450 for baggage fees, a shock survey has revealed.
American Airlines has begun billing customers the staggering amount for an oversize bag weighing between 71lbs and 100lbs.
Continental has introduced a $400 supplement for luggage of a similar size, as has United Airlines.
Even fees for a normal sized bag can now be as high as $43, the study by USA Today revealed.
The figures are likely to enrage consumers who are furious over the rise of ‘hidden’ fees in airline tickets that are added on surreptitiously and only appear on the final bill.
Airlines are also seeing returns to huge profits after the recession but with no improvements in overall performance.
The USA Today study shows that families making big trips on international flights are going to be penalised by what amount to the cost of the ticket itself – just for having large bags.
American, Continental and United are by far the most expensive for luggage between 71lbs and 100lbs – the closest to them is Delta on $200.
Even Spirit, which is notorious for its hidden baggage fees, only charges fliers $100 to put such a bag on the plane.
The airline does however charge the most to check in a bag at the airport with a fee of $38 on a domestic flight and $43 on an international flight.
Even fees to change tickets vary wildly, the survey found: whilst it costs $50 to do so with Frontier Airlines, Delta charges five times that for an international flight.
With the rising cost of fuel baggage fees have become big business for airlines and last year brought in $3.4 billion for U.S. carriers.
But at the same time passengers are seeing no discernible improvement in performance, not least in lost luggage.
Globally, the world’s airlines last year mishandled 12.07 bags for every 1,000 passengers and didn’t recover 0.43 bags per 1,000 fliers, according to a 2011 report by SITA, a technology company owned by the world’s airlines.
Last month new regulations from the U.S. Department of Transportation came into effect to try and quell rising public anger over airlines.
They must now include on their websites a comprehensive breakdown of the final bill including the cost of checked and overweight baggage.
Some of the most significant changes, including a requirement that airlines include taxes and fees in their advertised fares and prompt notice of flight delays, were postponed until January next year.
American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said the fees were cover fuel costs and discourage customers from bringing large bags on their planes.
COST BY AIRLINE:
US Airways $175
*Cost per checked bag up to 100lb on international flight